Dispatches: Chicago


Chicago is…one of my favorite cities in the whole world. I love Philadelphia (having lived there for 10 years.) San Francisco is fine (1 year living there) and my proximity to NYC has made the Big Apple grow on me too.

But for the past 11 years or so, I’ve had the joy of experiencing Chicago on well over 20 occasions. I’ve lost count.

And now, it seems, that this coming weekend, the pixelated cosmic atmosphere there will (tilt) shift as a number of really talented photographers – Sue Ables, Sabrina Henry, Mark Olwick, Marco Ryan and Stuart Sipahigil will descend upon the City With Broad Shoulders to take in the Henri-Cartier Bresson exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago (a joint where my sister worked for a few years.)

And I’m jealous. Not only because it would very cool to hang out with these shooters, but to do so in Chicago in the summer…fantastic.

As I said, I’ve been to that fair city a number of times. The shot of the Wrigley Building that leads off this post…one of the first photos I took that I actually liked. Shot on film (probably regular old Kodak ISO 400) with a Canon Rebel, I remember standing in the freezing cold, putting the camera on my tripod and setting the timer. I was shooting all automatic then. Had no idea what the other side of the dial did. Just turned the dial to that little starry sky diagram, set the 10 second time and press the shutter. Repeat a half done times.

From there, I fell in love with the streets (Michigan Ave, Wacker, Wabash), the quirky Loop, the people and the food. Especially the food.

Back then, I would often take a late afternoon flight from NJ to Chicago. I’d cab it down the Dan Ryan into the city, drop my bags and head to Bistro 110 for steak and frites. Sitting at the copper-top bar with a glass of wine, chatting with the bartender, it was comfort food in a comfortable place.

I also remember once, after a photo shoot either downtown or in nearby Skokie, IL, me, Joe McNally, his assistant then, Bart Crosby, the AR designer we were using at the time and my sister and husband all having a great dinner at Scozzi. Then last summer, the evening before a shoot, me and Stephen Doyle getting to know shooter David Bowman and his assistant Josh Quigley over dinner at Blackbird. It would be the next night, while at dinner at Mercat a la Plaxna, that David would utter the utterly unforgettable quote: It’s like when I crossed the Outback on a a camel with a gasoline can full of port…

It was last fall, too, when I ventured to The Silver Palm and probably clogged some arteries, but tastily! via the Three Little Piggy sandwich.

I didn’t shoot it then, but I did recreate it when I got home:

Ah Chicago. The food. The structures.

The now-iconic Bean.

Ah Chicago. The food. The structures. The people.

Just really nice, down-to-earth people. Last summer, after re-wandering into Updown Cigar (I had been there years before and had forgotten I was) I met a couple of stellar gents and shot a couple of portraits.

Grover. He and I share the EXACT same money clip. (open your desk drawer. See that black clip that comes in a variety of sizes? That’s it.) With a great face like that, I had to shoot it.

And Mike, who I’ve come to find out makes some of the best bacon caramels around (not sure what they are but they sound good.)

Mike’s a huge Chicago sports fan and we’ve kept in touch (mostly via Twitter) since I shot this. I had to send him a case of Tastykakes when his Blackhawks beat my Flyers this past spring in the Stanley Cup finals. Next time I’m in Chicago, I’m sure we’ll clink a glass to toast that series.

And I didn’t even get into the time in Chicago when I stalked U2….

Yes, I hope to get back there again soon. Every time I think “OK, I won’t find anything new to shoot this time around”…I do. It holds that type of romance for me.

Fast forward to Summer of 2009. The Wrigley Building again. Different angle. No film camera this time. Digital. Handheld.

© Mark V. Krajnak 2010 | JerseyStyle Photography | All rights Reserved
Unless otherwise noted, images captured with a Canon 50D, SanDisk digital film, finished with PS2 or PSE6 and Nik Software.


6 thoughts on “Dispatches: Chicago

  1. I’m confused. Are you Chicago, going to Chicago, leaving Chicago, returning from Chicago, reminiscing about Chicago…?

    Let me know when you’re around, i’ll try to meet you for a sandwich or dog downtown…

  2. Mark, I’m just back from Chicago and it was everything you said it would be and more. I fell in love with the city and can’t wait to return–perhaps with you next time?

  3. Pingback: Returning To An Old Love « JerseyStyle Photography

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